Meditation: Simple breathing or High Tech Gadgets?

Like training and toning the body through healthy living, meditation trains and tones the mind. Meditation, like fitness, can be very simple or very complex and requires varying mental skills and abilities.

The easiest, most common practice for beginners and seasoned meditators is slow, focused concentration on the breath, ten to fifteen minutes in the beginning. It slowly becomes easier to sit and ’empty your mind’ of thoughts. As the mind gets trained to release all thoughts and calm down completely a person can go on to progressively more difficult forms of mediating such as the following.

CONCENTRATION MEDITATION

Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.

In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION

Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.

Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge an experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. With practice, an inner balance develops.

In some schools of meditation, students practice a combination of concentration and mindfulness. Many disciplines call for stillness — to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the teacher.

OTHER ANCIET MEDITATION TECHNIQUES

There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditation techniques, such as tai chi, qigong, and walking meditation.

HIGH TECH MEDITATION

Now lets take a look at some of the newer ways to boost your meditation practice.

It’s hard not to get excited about new technology…most often it makes our lives much easier. We are truly blessed to live today with all the information and technology we have. Back in the day, they could only imagine. So let’s take a look at a couple of technologies that can make your meditation easier, or at least digitalized and into the 21st century! Who know’s, it may be ‘just your style!’

Let’s start with the cheapest. All you need is a smart phone and a great app like Headspace or Calm. Apps like these offer meditations for stress, memory problems, sleep disorders, and things like attention focusing issues. Most of these type of apps focus on helping you create a place in your mind similar to a lake, beach, or forest. The meditations can also be soothing sounds such as babbling brooks, birds, rain, rivers or waves….sounds that are meant to settle us down to a stress free state.

Next up on the techy list…Spire. This simple little device clips onto your waistband and measures your breath through the expansion and contraction of your torso. It goes on to send data to your smartphone throughout the day and vibrates as it senses you’re losing Grip! When you take deep breaths, you relax, your blood becomes less acidic, and the amygdala part of your brain that senses it’s not threatened or being chased by a wild animal, the norm for our great ancestors causing us to be genetically inclined to stress and stress hormones, relaxes.

So what are the advantages of long and short yogic breathing the Spire monitors? Among a growing body of evidence, conclusions have been made that yogic breathing contributes to improved cognitive performance, better tissue perfusion, lower blood pressure, glucose metabolism, and an increased immune system. It is well documented that these physiological changes are associated with optimal human performance.

So the Spire may not ascend you to the level of yogi over night but it’s a great mindfulness tool that reinforces the effects of your meditation practice through the day. 

If you already meditate, then Muse can help you get the most out of each practice. The brain-sensing headband works like a FitBit of sorts for your brain, using EEG sensors to report what’s going on in your head to your smartphone. That means you can literally watch yourself getting more relaxed. The company’s iPhone and Android app will guide you through meditations and offers real-time feedback on how your meditation is going, as well as coaching tips on how you can improve.

Thync: While Muse simply monitors what your brain is doing, Thync actually helps influence it. The tiny device is attached to your forehead, and it signals nerves in your head and neck to trigger your brain’s adrenaline system. The result is the ability to naturally activate your body’s sense of calm if you’re in a situation where you need to relax—or give you an energy boost when you need a pick me up. While giving your nerves a jolt might seem a bit, well, unnerving, the technology is based on decades of research, and its effects grow the more you use it.

Then of course if you want to spend a little more, say $35,000 you might want to give the Somadome a try, with a promise of giving the meditator full escape. This pod gives the meditator a feeling of being in their own protective cocoon. The ability of this pod seems to be the key to minimizing psychological distress in chronically crowded living conditions.

Each of these cutting edge technicologies geared toward meditating and mindful living has its own positives and negatives. If you are thinking of upping your meditation game look into one of these new technologies, who knows it may sky rocket your practice and open your mind to new and higher levels of peaceful meditaions and insites.